Kermit Bradford Story

Judge Kermit C. Bradford is the civil court judge of Fulton County in Georgia.

I was the younger of two sons. When  I was  twelve  my  father  said, "Son,  due  to   my  illness  you  must quit  school  and  go  to  work  to  help support  your  mother."  Knowing  education was a must if one is to survive in  this  world,  I decided  to  continue my schooling and get a job,  going to school  all  day  and  working  at  night until  graduation.  Later I would go to school   at   night and work  all day. Determined   to  get   my  education   I struggled  through  high  school,  business  college,  and  finally  the  university and a law degree. Along the way I read  the  biographies  of  great  successful  Americans  and  tried  to  emulate   them.  I took inventory of my personal assets and tried to utilize them.

In the early 1920's I decided to become a pilot. I learned to fly in an old World War I Jenny, and became one of the breed of barnstormers people called daredevil stunt pilots. When World War II came along I joined the United States Army, my assignment being in the Counter-Intelligence Corps. In the first group that went to England, I worked with Scotland Yard, then went across with the invasion of Europe and worked with the underground in the liberation of Paris. Following that, I went into Germany with General Eisenhower as head of the security group whose duty was to protect him.

After six months in the army of occupation I came home and set up my law office. My life to that point read like a true American Horatio Alger story-from a little poverty­ stricken boy to a successful lawyer. The truth was, I was a successful failure! There seemed no meaning whatsoever in life. I felt as restless, miserable, and defeated as when I was a little boy in knickers out on his first paper route.

About that time the Lord reached down and took the most precious person in my life. When He called my mother home, He took my prayer warrior, my comforter, and the only human being in my world that possessed genuine agape love. Mamma had callouses on her knees from kneeling at a Methodist Church  altar almost  every  day  for  over  forty  long years, fasting  and  praying  for  me.

I remember that in the days of my flight training I used to fly every Saturday afternoon; during   which time I would fly over Mamma's house where she and I lived. Hearing the roar of the plane flying low, she would know it was her boy up there and would come out on the lawn and wave up to me. I would circle the house, hang out of the cockpit and wave, and then put on a little stunt show for her.

There came a special Saturday in my life when I went through the same routine. Then I pulled the stick back and began to climb for altitude. Suddenly, however, my plane began to lose flying speed. A check of my instruments showed the oil pressure dropping, until finally the needle hit bottom. The plane began to vibrate, the wings trembled, and the prop began to wobble. Immediately I dropped the nose and put the plane into a glide, looking frantically to see where I would crash. I was very close to the ground. Directly ahead were the white tombstones of Westview Cemetery; over to the right were some giant oak trees. Not wanting to dig my own grave, I turned and headed for the trees, knowing as they came rushing toward me that nothing short of a miracle could save me from certain death.

The realization suddenly flooded my consciousness that I was without God. From infancy my mother had taught me to believe in Jesus Christ. I accepted Him intellectually and historically,  was  promoted  through  all the grades of the Sunday school, and finally  was  placed  on  the  Board of Stewards. But one little ingredient had been left out:  I had not  been born again!  (See John 3:5-7.)  I was  accepted and called a Christian, but let me tell you, when the chips are down and  you  face  death,  you  know  the truth  and  nobody  can  fool  you.  I knew I still had the same nature with which I was born– a nature completely self -centered.

I knew that Mamma had a God who answered when she prayed, and with whom she had a personal relationship. Now as I headed for those immovable   trees    and  certain   death, there  was  only  time  enough  left to cry  quickly:   "Mamma,  if  you ever prayed for me, you had better pray for me now!" Then the plane crashed into the trees. The wings were torn away,  the  motor  jerked  loose,  the tail  broke  off  and  a  big  limb  shot through  the  cockpit  and  ripped  the seat  off  my trousers  as  we  settled into  the top of a  big tree and I didn't get a scratch!

Upon arriving home, I finally blurted out the story, standing close to Mamma to catch her when she fainted from shock. When I had finished, her beautiful face lit up and she began to smile as she said very gently and calmly, "Son. I knew all about that last night." Then I was ready to pass out from shock! How could she have known about it last night– it had only happened an hour before! Mamma explained that Jesus had awakened her in the night and  told  her of my impending crash and  death. She had prayed hours until God gave her the assurance that He would give her boy another  chance.

After  my  mother  was  taken  from me, I began to search for  reality and for  truth– truth  in  the  spiritual  realm. Forty  years  in the  church,  I had seen  many  an  elder commit  his sins the  same  way  I did  mine. The only difference   between   us   was   that   I called myself a  sinner  and  he  called himself   a   Christian.   I was  sin sick and  wanted  the  truth,  if  there  was truth  to  be  had.  In my desperation  I went   down   into   the   woods   where Mamma  would  often  go  to  pray  for me, because I remembered that as a child  she  had  said,  "Son,  someday, somewhere,  you  must  find your altar and there allow Jesus to put to death the old sinful man.

Do not be afraid, for He will instantly resurrect you and you will  be a  new creature  in Christ. Old  things  will   pass  away   and  all things  will  become  new."  I recalled, also,  that  Mamma  said  a  man  had better  mean  it when  he  prays,  "God be  merciful  to  me, a  sinner."  Well,  I was ready to mean it. I had despaired of the human race, of the  world, and of myself; and if I could not find God, I wanted  out!

I went to that place where we used to  have an  old-fashioned  Methodist holiness  campground,  walked  down that old rugged trail, and knelt at that crude altar. In my law practice I have walked  the  "last  mile"  with  men  to the execution chamber, and God impressed upon me that day I was leaving  my  church,  society,  old  friends as well as enemies, and that I would never  come  this  way  again.  And I didn't.  Kneeling  at  that   altar,  the person  I had  been  for  forty  years died but was immediately resurrected a  new  creature  in Jesus  Christ. All things indeed became new. The thirst for alcohol was gone, the desire for other women was gone. It was true– I was a new creature, with a tremendous  hunger   and  thirst for  the Word of God.

Not long after I found myself at a Full Gospel Businessmen meeting. The first thing I noticed was that the very air seemed  alive with the electricity  of  love– something warm and wonderful. I was introduced to a  big, tall  Texan   who passed  up  my  extended hand and threw his arm around my shoulders and hugged me. I had  never  been  hugged  by a  man before,  and  didn't  know  exactly what to do.

The law has taught me to withhold judgment until all the evidence is in. The convention was to last three days, and I decided to let them prove their case.  It  is  well  my  judgment was reserved, for God awakened me from sleep that first night in Chicago and I heard myself speaking in a most beautiful  heavenly  language. I had been forgiven of  sin at the altar out there in the old Methodist campgrounds, and now God filled me with His  Holy  Spirit.  He had taken me through that door into His power plant– where all of His heavenly dynamite is stored.

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